RE: Q.'s about hanja

From: Jungshik Shin (
Date: Tue Nov 07 2000 - 14:06:53 EST

On Tue, 7 Nov 2000, Marco Cimarosti wrote:

> John Cowan wrote:
> > > 3) How often are hanja used today, however? (...)
> >
> > I believe they are still common in newspaper headlines,
> > because of the greater
> > degree of compression they permit.
> Do you mean that some hanja have a polisyllabic pronunciation in Korean?

No. None of Hanjas in Korean has that. All of them are monosyllabic
in pronunciation.

> I thought than any single hanja was pronunced as a *single* syllable in
> Korean and, thus, a given expression would occupy exactly the same space
> whether spelled in hanja or hangul.

You're absolutely right.

> Or did you mean that hanja, being less ambiguous, allow using terms and
> expressions that would be avoided in hangul-only text?

You're sort of right. Some people think that using Hanja and Hanja-o
(words made up of Hanjas) one can come up with shorter/more 'compact'
words/expression (which is need for newspaper headlines) than using
'genuine Korean words' only. Then, they argue on to say that since some
of those Hanja-o's are ambiguous written in Hangul only, Hanjas should
be used. There are two counter arguments to this. One is it's not always
the case that using Hanja-o's gives you saving in terms of character
count. The other is even if Hanja-o's are necessary, that doesn't mean
they should be written in Hanjas because there are not many cases where
Hanjas are essential in breaking degeneracy. (most of time, the context
is good enough to break degeneracy even in newspaper headlines).

Jungshik Shin

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